Estep, Elks outlast Bulldogs to win 2A East Region Final
Junior RB rushes for 223 yards and 4 TDs in first half as Elkton avenges last year’s loss to North Caroline
— Raiquon Estep piled up four touchdowns and 223 yards rushing on 17 first-half carries as Elkton rolled out to a five-score lead at halftime that would normally prove fatal for most opponents. But what had the makings of a blowout evolved into a nail-biting
finish after North Caroline cut down the deficit to just 13 points with nine seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Golden Elks responded with a clock-eating drive that ate up six minutes, 23 seconds of the final frame, and their defense produced a turnover on downs on the ensuing possession as third-seeded Elkton held on for a wild 33- 20 victory Friday over visiting No. 4 North Caroline in the 2A East Region final, propelling the Cecil County squad to the state football semifinals for the first time since 2012.
The Elks (11-1) will travel to face Calvert next Friday, when a ticket to the state championship game will be on the line.
“You go into halftime up 33-0, what we’re generally doing are halftime
on Friday, piling up nearly 400 yards of offense in the first half alone.
During the post-game huddle, the coaches and players recognized individual performers. While Ray Estep’s record-setting night received an obvious spotlight, he immediately deferred credit with an enthusiastic shout of “O-line!” Feeney followed by recognizing senior lineman and captain, Marquis Byrd. The players cheered even louder for him than they did for Estep, which spoke to his leadership and the many opportunities his crew opened up for Estep and quarterback Jackson Argoe.
“The o-line stepped up today and did what they had to do,” Byrd said. “They executed and made sure Ray got out in the open.”
Byrd got to contribute even more than usual, as he snagged a Bulldog fumble late in the first quarter. It was one of two key turnovers by the defense that kept North Caroline off the board in the first half. Players for Elkton celebrate after defeating visiting North Caroline 33-20 on Friday to win the 2A East Region championship.
“They came out swinging in the second half, but the defense fought and didn’t give up anymore scores than we needed to
give up. I’m proud of my defense and proud of this whole team for what we became.”
Scuderi arguably enjoyed the
win more than anyone else on the field, as he had to watch last year’s title game from the sideline.
“My knee got infected the night before the game,” he said. “It was Thursday night and I called Coach at 2 o’clock in the morning and was like, ‘I can’t walk.’ That kind of sucked, but it felt great to get back out here and redeem myself, and the rest of us redeemed ourselves.”
Ironically, the Elks’ most successful drive of the night didn’t yield them any points. When they finally got the ball after the Bulldogs surged back into the game with a 20-point third quarter, they held onto it for more than six minutes. It was the type of stand Elkton might not have made earlier in the season.
“It took 6-7 weeks for everything to mesh,” Feeney said. “Now they know and it’s fun to watch.”
Elkton last hoisted the region championship plaque in 2012, so this is a new experience for every player on the team. It’s back to work on Monday with just two wins to go for a state title, but the Elks were thrilled to trade a disappointing bus ride for a celebration with their fans.
“I feel like I’m in the NFL, it’s the most amazing feeling,” Byrd said with a big smile. “We’re hungry, we’re humbled and we’re ready.”
Junior running back Raiquon Estep rushed for 223 yards and four touchdowns in the first half to help lead third-seeded Elkton to a 33-20 victory over visiting No. 4 North Caroline in the 2A East Region Final on Friday,